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Lecture 1

THEA 1900 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Multiculturalism In Canada, Irish Canadian, Reel Fishing

7 pages124 viewsSummer 2015

Course Code
THEA 1900
Alberto Guevara

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In Walter Benjamin’s account, ‘memory creates the chain of tradition which passes a happening
on from generation to generation,’ and the storyteller ‘tells from experience—her own or that
reported by others. And she in turn makes it the experience of those who are listening to her
tale’” (in Fisher 2001: 227).
This online lecture deals with the notion of diasporic communities. Many contemporary cities in North
America, including the city of Toronto, and to some extent in Europe, are increasingly home to what has
been called diasporic communities: immigrants, expatriates, refugees, guest workers, and exile
This diasporic reality has changed the definition of nation, citizen, and subject.
The “primordial” categories and boundaries of ethnicity, race, religion and territories have been
transformed by the movements of people across nations’ boundaries and also due to the fact that the speed
of communication and information has become widespread around the world.
The ever-increasing political presence of refugees and immigrants in post-Cold war Europe and North
America has generated considerable debate about the nature of multicultural societies. It is argued that the
world is now producing a different type of a subject, a different type of citizen, and a new type of nation
state. Reflecting this new reality scholars and artists working on the area of diasporas had to rethink the
notions of ethnicity and identity and cultural boundaries. This new citizen is more characterized by its
multiple and complicated identities.
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The city of Toronto is considered one of the most multicultural cities in the world:
The demand for the recognition of cultural, racial, and ethnic differences has come to occupy a central
place in political governments to reflect this new reality. As social anthropologists James Clifford put it
in his article called “Diasporas” (1994), bounded communities or homogenous communities are difficult
to find nowadays. What does it mean to be African-American, Japanese–Canadian, Hispanic American
or Hindo-Canadian or Irish Canadian? What side of the hyphen takes precedence?
The answers to these questions are connected to the notion of a diasporic imagination and of a
social/cultural identity. We can think of a diasporic imagination as a type of collective identity or a
cultural (social) memory defined by a vision or myth of a homeland, or a place of origin. What this mean
is that the main characteristic of a diasporic community is maintaining a “memory”, a vision or myth
about a place, a homeland. According to a common definition, social identity “is the portion of an
individual's self-concept derived from perceived membership in a relevant social group”
( The context of a diasporic imagination is then one
of forced or voluntary relocation: it is about displacement, exile and immigration. It is about constructing
a new type of identity: one that is new and emerging based on the present conditions of the diaspora.
This new type of identity is ripe with creative possibilities when it comes to art, theatre, and performance.
Theatre and performance scholar Ric Knowles states that, “communities in diaspora interact and constitute
themselves as communities through the performative enactment of intercultural memory (2010: 167).
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